November 24, 2017

ChemSketch for Science Teachers

butyneWhen teaching Chemistry or Biology (Living Environment, etc.) the preparation of professional-quality class materials can be challenging when we want to generate images of molecules.  My solution is ChemSketch from ACD/Labs.  (Just Google it!)  There is a free-ware version which may be downloaded and installed on your PC or Mac.  I am very comfortable with technology, so I was able to have it installed pretty quickly, and the learning curve wasn’t very steep.  Within a couple of hours I was able to produce quality the drawings as you see here plus many more.  I may be presenting examples that are more complex than what you need.  For people who are less confident with technology it might be nice to work together with a colleague or perhaps a technology specialist.

ChemSketch has a lot to offer besides just organic molecules.  For example, there is a library of sketches of laboratory apparatus that could be very useful for creating labs.  There is much more that I will explore in the future.

I did find one shortcoming.  I wanted to export my images as simple jpg or png files, and I could not find a way to that.  My work-around was to take screen shots which generally have poorer quality especially if enlarged.  Maybe the premium commercial version has more to offer, but the price if probably too high for a typical high-school science department. Considering the price of free I am all too willing to accept this inconvenience.

ester synthesis

To view a dry-lab exercise for working with organic compounds and functional groups Student/Chemistry/Organic Compounds.

To download a PDF version of the same  visit Teacher/Chemistry/Organic Compounds.

Cartesian Battleship

Cartesian Battleship

Descartes sank my battleship?  Well, not exactly.  But, the Cartesian coordinate system is very useful for so many things.  Children get a sense of the game from the Battleship game.  Milton Bradley used a simplified approach with letters along one axis and numbers along the other.

For teaching mathematics to students a full Cartesian coordinate system including an origin and positive and negative numbers is useful.  The great thing is, students are intrinsically motivated to learn the coordinate system in order to play the game.

Read the full article about Cartesian Battleship, and download the free templates to transform your own game.

Why Lissajous Figures?


Lissajous figures may be drawn by moving some type of marking tool back and forth in one direction with one frequency while simultaneously moving it in a perpendicular direction at a second frequency.  The resulting curve will be closed when the frequencies are in an integer ratio.  The results can be somewhat amusing, like a child’s Spirograph toy.  At the same time, these curves are rich with mathematical content interesting to mathematicians, physicists and engineers.  For a more in depth discussion visit my Lissajous Figures article.  The curve you see plotted here was generated by a Matlab program with a Graphical User Interface which is available for free download to users of Matlab.  The program is useful for investigating the properties of Lissajous curves and their derivatives.  The discussion is rich with the periodic functions sine and cosine with various parametrizations.  The curves are parametric curves, and the derivative of a Lissajous curve is another Lissajous curve.  Jules Antoine Lissajous was inspired by these curves to create a mechanical device for projecting them on a screen, and others improved upon the concept in the form of the harmonograph.

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